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Monday, 23 April, 2001, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Mystery over Schroeder father's grave
Grave in Romanian village of Ceanu Mare
A possible resting-place for Mr Schroeder's father
A village in Romania is preparing for a visit by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder but there are doubts about whether his soldier father is buried in its graveyard as reported last week.

Corporal Fritz Schroeder, who was killed in fighting with Soviet forces in October 1944, died without seeing his only son, who was born just six months earlier.

The German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, which broke the news that the site of Corporal Schroeder's grave had been found, was confident that it was in a well-tended plot in the Transylvanian village of Ceanu Mare.

Complication

But a reporter for Hungarian Duna TV found a more complex picture.
Gavril Oros, mayor of Ceanu Mare
The mayor awaits an important visitor...

Experts from Transylvania's History Museum believe that the final resting-place of the chancellor's father is more likely to be in the village of Ceanu Mic, 50 km away, she said.

The mayors of the two villages were interviewed about the flurry of interest.

In Ceanu Mare, Gavril Oros described his surprise when journalists from Bild appeared looking for a grave where they said nine German soldiers lay.

"Then they asked me whether the name Fritz Schroeder meant anything to me."

Entrance to village of Ceanu Mic
... but there is a rival claim
His counterpart in Ceanu Mic, Vasile Todea, talked about the fierce fighting that raged there at the time of Fritz Schroeder's death.

"Three soldiers - one of whom could be the person for whom a search is currently under way - were on duty in the church tower," Mr Todea said.

"They fought to the bitter end and stayed there until they were captured and executed."

Misunderstanding

In Germany, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung looked into the confusion - apparently stemming from a linguistic misunderstanding over the area, which was under Hungarian rule until 1918 and again briefly during the fighting in Autumn 1944.


It is being asked whether the plan might be to steer the chancellor towards the prettier - but perhaps wrong - grave in Ceanu Mare, rather than to the less attractive mass grave in Ceanu Mic

Sueddeutsche Zeitung
A Romanian World War II expert, Gheorghe Bodea, said Bild had identified Ceanu Mare as the village known in Hungarian as Pusztacsany - but Pusztacsany was actually the Hungarian name for Ceanu Mic.

Mass grave

Mr Bodea said residents of Ceanu Mic had spoken of an unidentified mass grave near their village, where they had found human remains and German Wehrmacht insignia.

"It is being asked whether the plan might be to steer the chancellor towards the prettier - but perhaps wrong - grave in Ceanu Mare, rather than to the less attractive mass grave in Ceanu Mic," the newspaper commented.

Whatever the outcome, the wife of Ceanu Mare's priest saw some good in the story.

"At last there will be something positive about Romania in the newspapers - that people here looked after a soldiers' grave for decades without worrying about who was inside," Maricica Crisan said, according to the Sueddeutsche report.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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